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Cynical Takeaways From The 2016 Google Performance Summit

Earlier this week, a Google Performance Summit event announced upcoming features and changes to its AdWords and Analytics platforms. The highly anticipated event had a grandeur that would make Steve …

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2016 Google Performance Summit Announcing Changes to Google AdWords and Google Analytics

Earlier this week, a Google Performance Summit event announced upcoming features and changes to its AdWords and Analytics platforms. The highly anticipated event had a grandeur that would make Steve Jobs proud, but the takeaways weren’t as Earth-shattering as one might hope for.

Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google’s Senior VP of Ads and Commerce, discussed the ongoing shift to mobile and the need for advertisers to focus on micro-moments. This is nothing new, but we’re glad to see that Google is attempting to be proactive about the increasing influence of mobile behavior on buying decisions.

Presenter after presenter took the stage, each of them proclaiming that they, “are excited to announce, that for the first time,” Google will be offering something or other. For many of these exciting announcements, some of us silently shook our heads as if to say, “Well, it’s about damn time.”

But nevertheless, we’ll embrace these changes with open arms.

Device-Level Bid Adjustments

AdWords account managers are currently limited to set bid adjustments only for mobile devices, but soon you’ll be able to control your bid adjustments for each type of device. This is exciting, but long overdue, as we’ve met clients that have been forced to stop advertising on Google Search & Display because tablet traffic was not profitable, and there was no solution.

New Audiences for Search

With the steady rise of cost-per-click for Search ads, marketers are constantly looking for ways to narrow their PPC audience. Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs) have helped, but we’ve still been limited in our ability to narrow keyword audiences before their first click, despite the fact that we’ve always had a little more control on the Display network.

However, Google was excited to announce the introduction of Similar Audiences for Search and Demographics for Search Ads, which are sure to have a positive impact on audience targeting.

Expanded Text Ads

We are genuinely excited about the near 50% expansion of text ads. Who wouldn’t be? Google reported that when testing this feature, advertisers saw an increase in Click-Through-Rate of around 20%!

This will certainly be an advantage to advertisers that take advantage of this new feature right away, but I’m skeptical of the long-term effects. Perhaps campaigns will see a decrease in Bounce Rate if ads have more information in them, but since users still can’t click on more than one ad at a time, your Click-Through-Rate won’t be affected if everyone else is using this new feature.

The key takeaway from this segment actually has nothing to do with the new feature, and everything to do with the fact that whoever designed the graphic for the presentation does not know the AdWords policy about restricting exclamation points in a text ad to one.

Google Performance Summit Image Shows Search Ad With Two Exclamation Points

A change in this policy was not referenced during the keynote.

This is most likely a simple mistake, but it gave us a reason to chuckle.

New Display Ad Generator

The current display ad creation tool is less than ideal. It’s near impossible to create aesthetically pleasing ads, and the tool itself has been known to glitch and time out. For these reasons, we always recommend that ads be professionally designed by a graphic designer, which is expensive if clients don’t have access to one in-house.

Google announced a new tool that appears to make beautiful ads that are specific to desktop, mobile or tablet, and all you have to do is insert your headline, description, an image and a URL.

Increased Localization

Google is continuing to make improvements that will help searchers find local businesses, and they’re also introducing new technology that will help advertisers track offline conversions, including in-store visits as a result of an ad click. Without a doubt, it will take some time before the latter of these affects small to medium-sized brick & mortars.

There were also several announcements regarding Google Maps, including the introduction of Promoted Pins, but just about all of these features are already available on the Waze app, which Google acquired in 2015.

Facelift to the AdWords Interface

Despite my fear of change, I was impressed with some of the unique data visualization that the new interface promises to bring. I’m also sure that there is more than one reason for the redesign.

As Samantha Lemonnier, Director of Engineering, AdWords Platform, stated, “When you log in to AdWords today, you are bombarded with data. It’s hard to know where to look and what to look for.”

Eh. I don’t feel that way, and I’m sure my colleagues don’t either. The more data, the better! So is this an attempt to create a perception of simplicity in order to entice newbies to start spending money on AdWords? I’ll let you decide.

Final Thoughts

Despite my cynicism, the hour-long presentation was entertaining and somewhat exciting. The emphasis on mobile seems to be drawn out at this point, but it still has not completely permeated the industry. I know it’s cliche, but if the 2016 Google Performance Summit has taught us anything, it’s that advertisers really need to be thinking about these micro-moments that Google keeps talking about.

We need to realize that there are actual human beings responding to these advertising campaigns, and we need to think about when they’re searchingwhich device they’re searching on, what environmental factors are at play, and how we can most effectively relay our message to them.

These changes are certainly going to be an improvement to Google’s advertising platform, but even more, they’re allowing us to provide more value to our clients. AdWords can be a scary endeavor for a small or medium sized business on a budget, but with every new feature that allows the little guy to segment their audience more mindfully and communicate with their audience more strategically, they’ll still have a fighting chance when advertising on the search behemoth.

Check out the full keynote here.

 

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